Wednesday, April 9, 2008

London's Burning With Excitement Now

Our original plan was to limit our time in London due to the ridiculously expensive nature of, well, everything, and because I really wasn't expecting to enjoy the city all that much. I'm not sure why I had any kind of aversion to the city. After all, it is the home of West Ham United, the soccer/football team I support. But as it happens, London is quite the happening town. Shocking, I know.

First off, we happened to choose a hotel that was both the nicest place we have stayed and located in the neighborhood that best fit Kristi and me. Being in the East End keeps you from some of the posh-itude that is lost on me, and our temporary neighborhood was like a little slice of Chicago, with a mix of Jamaicans, Lithuanians, Russians and the wild card of the cockney lads speaking in strange rhymed phrases and bedecked in all sorts of New York Yankees paraphernalia. Perhaps the most homey place yet.
Second of all, our friends Dave and Lolo bought us tickets to a soccer match at Fulham (the West Ham match had been switched to the day we were leaving). Fulham, apart from being the club with the most Americans playing, happens to play in one of the last remaining really cool old stadiums, Craven Cottage. The Cottage reminded me of Tiger stadium in its raggedness and the fact that many seats had large beams obstructing parts of the pitch.
To add to the already rich atmosphere, our seats were in the away end that was filled with Sunderland fans crazy enough to travel the length of the country to watch a match that meant next to nothing for them in the overall scheme of the season. What that means is that they are the most hardcore, most boozed up, loudest slice of fans you can find. For reasons of self- preservation, we chose to be hardcore Sunderland fans for the day (Kristi even wore the colors). And what a good choice that was. We learned all sorts of "colorful" songs where the subject's parentage was questioned, the size of the stadium was compared to a garden shed and all sorts of people were at a disco... Yeah, a disco. Luckily, Sunderland won 1-3 which made the fans even more enjoyable to be around. Plus, despite the worries that the match would be a bit slow due to the nature of what was at stake for the visitors, the opposite was the case. It was end to end action. A true highlight of the trip--we were even on the evening news!
Third, we got to walk around neighborhoods that constantly reminded us of our favorite bands and had any number of songs popping into our heads. There is something about seeing how places stack up to how you have mythologized them. Let's just say that Bridget Jones sadly has kicked punk rock's buttocks something fierce!
Finally, museums, great supermarkets, no touts, no language to learn, drinkable water. Very strange, indeed. Oh, and the great (?) East End humor (see photo above taken outside of West Ham's stadium). If anyone can explain what this sign has to do with laundry, please let us know...(I believe it's time, Kristi believes the answer is a little more socio-political...)

1 comment:

Ben said...

Now I've got "London Calling" by the Clash stuck in my head. Seriously, I never liked that song.

Oh hey, in case the British Media isn't carrying this very important news: Vanilla Ice just got arrested for beating his wife. He's the new James Brown, if you ask me.